Equal Pay Day: How big is the gap for African-American women? | NAWBO

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Equal Pay Day: How big is the gap for African-American women?

Melissa Wylie, Bizwomen reporter
Aug 23, 2016, 11:41am EDT

Equal Pay Day falls in the first weeks of April, signifying how far into the year women must work to earn as much as men.

But African-American women must wait even longer — until today, to be exact – to reach parity. That’s because instead of earning the national average of 79 cents on the dollar, African-American women earn 60 cents for every dollar white men earn.

“As a double minority, we experience bias on multiple fronts,” said Kelly Burton, founder of Bodyology, a line of "innerwear" for women. “African-American Equal Pay Day is a good time to explore the ways those factors intersect and consider potential solutions to addressing the problem.”

Throughout a 40-year career, African-American women stand to lose $877,480 based on today’s wage gap. If the gap were closed, African-American women working full time would potentially have enough money for 169 more weeks of food for their families, 23 more months of rent and 15 more months of mortgage and utilities payments, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.

The National Association of Women Business Owners suggests more women should start their own businesses to help close the gap — the thought being, women will likely earn more money if they are in charge of salary decisions.

“The nuts and bolts of it is, if I own a privately held company, then I can pay my employees however I choose to,” Joy Lutes, national director of advocacy and public policy for NAWBO, told Bizwomen earlier this year.

However, African-American female founders tend to struggle raising money to fund startups. Research published this year showed that while black women lead more than 1.5 million businesses in the U.S., they received .002 percent of all venture funding in the past five years.

“I think it needs to be a multifaceted effort. Women need to be aware of the ways we self-sabotage by selling ourselves short, and institutions need to have measures in place that work to mitigate the disparity,” Burton said. “We need all hands on deck.”

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